Introduction

Publishers will tell you that most short story collections are doomed from the start. There’s a long-standing bias among readers that novels are a better value, or perhaps more serious, than short stories. As a consequence, short story collections often fall out of print and quickly become neglected – which is why, a few years ago, I decided to devote a year to reading and writing about nothing else on my Neglected Books website.
 
When I proposed a personal anthology that would just feature some of my favourite stories by neglected writers, I thought it would be easy. When I went through the 50-some posts about short story collections on my site, however, I soon had a list of at least as many stories.
 
So, I decided instead to focus on stories that are not only by neglected or little-known writers but also that push an envelope, often playing with boundaries between the act of reading and the act of writing or taking its subject to the extreme. They demonstrate what I consider one of the strengths of the short story form, which is that it is always open to experimentation and testing limits. They could be considered metafictions, even though most of them were written long before William Gass invented that term.
 
Coincidentally, this selection also adds a dozen new names to the list of authors collected the Total Personal Anthology.

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